Coffee 101: The Best Water for Your Coffee
We are concerned about the quality, type, and origins of our coffee. However, most people forget about another large factor that goes into coffee making: water.
So why is water so important in making coffee and instant coffee? For one, a cup of coffee is actually made up of 98% water! It plays the largest role in coffee extraction. In order to extract coffee, water has to form chemical bonds with instant coffee or coffee grounds in order to dissolve flavor. Without this reaction occurring, your coffee would end up tasteless.
Water is also very important to coffee because it contains various minerals, chemicals, and gases. These can include calcium, magnesium, sodium, and chlorine. While different types of water might be safe to drink, the pH levels and minerals/chemicals in the water can alter the taste of your coffee... and sometimes in not such a great way. According to the Specialty Coffee Association, the water standards for brewing coffee is water that is clear in color, contains no odors, and no chlorine.
Types of Water
Now that we know how important water is to coffee making, then what water to use for coffee? First, let’s talk about the different types of water and its effects on your cup of coffee!
This type of water contains a high amount of dissolved minerals and ions. These minerals and ions include magnesium, calcium, and other carbonates. The minerals magnesium and calcium can help to extract taste, which can lead to a flavorful cup of coffee, but you can’t have too much of these minerals present. A downside to hard water is that very hard water can ruin coffee appliances since when water is heated, mineral deposits, known as scaling, can be left on the machine. By using hard water, constant maintenance and descaling is needed.
Unlike hard water, soft water is treated water that contains low concentrations of minerals and ions. Rather than the magnesium and calcium that is present in hard water, it is replaced by sodium ions. Since both magnesium and calcium are needed to properly extract flavors of coffee, by using soft water, your coffee won’t be extracted properly. In addition, sometimes soft water can end up being salty due to too much sodium ions.
Reverse Osmosis Water
While the first two types of water are the most common, reverse osmosis water is a type of treated water and is not as commonly used or found. This type of process removes all minerals in the water. While this is beneficial for avoiding scaling in your coffee appliances, it produces water without any of the needed minerals for extracting coffee flavor. Due to this, reverse osmosis water produces a flat tasting coffee, similar to soft water.
While many people may think that bottled water is a great and dependable option for coffee making, the reality is that the type of water found in bottles can vary greatly. Depending on the brand, water can be different in pH levels and mineral content. Some can be too acidic and others not hard enough, meaning it won’t produce a flavorful cup of coffee. If you do want to use bottled water for coffee making, your best option would be to look for bottled water made of spring water!
Filtered Tap Water
This type of water can be a great option for coffee brewing if your tap water does not meet the water guidelines set by the Specialty Coffee Association. If you notice an odor or other impurities in your water, you can use something like the Brita Filter. Their filter uses activated carbon to remove water impurities, which includes odors, chlorine, and chloramine. There are also other larger filtration systems that you can purchase for you home as well! They are perfect for ensuring your water is not only safe to drink, but safe for coffee making.
Water Quality in the United States
The starting point in knowing what type of water you are using to brew your coffee, is being aware of the water quality that is coming out of your own taps! An easy way to check is going to the United States Environmental Protection Agency and checking the consumer confidence reports for the tap water in your area. Because state water quality may fluctuate depending on enforced standards, efforts towards clean water, and unexpected contaminantes, it is hard to determine which states have the best overall and worst overall tap water. The list could change drastically within just a few years! Here is just one list we have found showing the 11 cities with the worst tap water in the US.
Important Water Tips
Now that we’ve discussed in detail all the different types of water, here are a few water tips for improving your coffee brewing and instant coffee experience!
Don’t use boiling water
The ideal temperatures for brewing coffee range from 195-205 Fahrenheit (boiling temperature is 212 Fahrenheit). It is important not to use boiling water or water over the temperature of 205 Fahrenheit because this will burn your coffee and even produce a bitter and unpleasant taste.
Use a water filter
Although you might think that your tap water is clean enough, it is better to be safe and run it through a water filter. This will ensure that your water is odors, chlorine, and impurity free!
Make sure your tap water isn’t soft water
As we learned, soft water does not contain enough dissolved minerals to fully and properly extract coffee’s flavors. You’ll know if your water is too soft if your coffee tastes flat. There are plenty of options out there to increase mineral levels in your water to ensure there is enough magnesium and calcium in it!
Looking for spring water when using bottled water
If you prefer using bottled water, it can sometimes be a gamble with different brands containing different pH levels and mineral levels. To make sure you are getting quality water to make great coffee, try looking for spring water bottled water rather than just filtered.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with water!
If you’re happy with your current coffee taste, you may not even need to change anything about your water. However, it can be a fun experience to experiment with how different types of water can change the taste of your instant coffee! Try it out with friends and combine great coffee with great company!
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